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AgentTripleX 12-27-2010 08:59 AM

Traveling to Asia in March - looking for tips
 
So I booked a dream Oriental Express train trip as a late birthday present to myself. I'll be going from March 3-7, 2011. I plan to spend 4-5 days before and after exploring the surrounding areas/cities/countries.

I'll be in Singapore, then traveling through Malaysia and ending up in Bangkok in Thailand. I have 2 nights in Bangkok after the train trip. Depending on the type of activities to do, I could stay one or two more days in Bangkok and do some day trips, before heading off somewhere else. Or I can head off to one or two places right after the two nights in Bangkok. Below are some of the places not too far from Bangkok that are possibilities. If you could look at the websites and the local attractions to let me know what else there is to do in the area that would be greatly appreciated. Of course, there are lots of other possibilities too, but the biggest factor is I'll need to decide where I'm flying to and back from this week (hopefully today). For travel within SE Asia, I l need to book the hotels ASAP, but the airfare can probably be done much later as there local airlines for flights within Thailand or to neighboring countries.



This is the high end Marriott on Phuket, which is a big tourist island in the south of Thailand
http://www.marriott.com/hotels/trave...esort-and-spa/

This is a Four Seasons resort in Samui, which is a small tourist spot also south of Bangkog, but only a 1/2 hr flight
http://www.fourseasons.com/kohsamui/

These two are Four Seasons resorts in Bali, Indonesia. Definitely longer distance, but of course one of those places everyone should visit at least once...
On the ocean: http://www.fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay/
On the river: http://www.fourseasons.com/sayan/



What I'm looking to get out of this trip is to see how various cultures are and how people live in a part of the world I have not been to before. I'm interested in spirituality, food, life, nature, music & shopping. Part of the inspiration for this trip are the movies Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi. If you've seen either, you'll understand my motivation better.

Here are some photos from the orient express I'm doing Super Vixen Roller Coaster ~ Hop On and Hold On!

I'd love to hear your feedback on these various places and things to do from those familiar. I'm not familiar with the laws or cultures, so pointers on that will be helpful too. Things such as how to pack for 2 weeks traveling through SE ASIA in March by train and plane, what's appropriate behavior/dress and what's not, what's legal in CA, and not in any of these countries I'm going to would be most appreciated. If I recall correctly isn't chewing gum illegal in Singapore?

The last hotel link, Bali at Sayan, seems to have the most 'other recreation' options (Balinese farming experience and Tri Hita Karana experience) through their resort. I'm presently leaning towards it since I don't know the area. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan - Other recreation

I would like to see this in real life though (first link).
http://cache.marriott.com/propertyim...ur03.jpg?Log=1
http://cache.marriott.com/propertyim...r116.jpg?Log=1

Of course if any members are out in any of the areas I'm in, I'd love to meet from some tea. :)

lt0302 12-27-2010 09:10 AM

For a guy
 
I would say buy a bunch of condoms.........for a gal lots of SD cards for the camera, take no jewelery that is expensive........buy a man purse attach well to hips carry little cash.......travelers checks highly recommended........take minimum of credit cards...........ie like one for emergencies, make copy of you passport and keep in safe place in case yours is lost.......leave everything a gal has in a purse at home!!

AgentTripleX 12-27-2010 10:03 AM

I was just thinking I need to stock up on batteries and cards for my cameras, especially on the train, since I don't know what my charging capabilities will. I probably need to get some adapters too.

Good idea on fancy jewelry. I'll keep it to fashion jewelry/accessories if I bring any. I don't really know how to pack, but I may need some nicer things for dinners. I understand the weather will actually be pleasant and warm during my trip. I hope so anyway.

Great suggestions on the purse, cards, and passport. I will definitely follow them.

Is American cash pointless unless I have it converted in every different country I enter?

BTW - I have done quite a bit of international travel before, so I do have experience. Asia is a completely new and different adventure for me. I've been to countries like Russia, Finland, S. Africa, Netherlands, Denmark, Costa Rica & West Indies so I can hang a bit out of my element. I'm not a complete amateur. ;)

alp 12-27-2010 10:04 AM

The first link points to the blog then to jetsetter which requires a login. I can offer advice on SG. Spent 20 years there.

SG is actually the more 'liberal' country in that region. So not too much culture shock. No tips required for restaurants/bars/taxis. There are a few historical places/off the beaten paths that I'd recommend in SG, ie Chinatown (which is vastly different from the ones here in the US), Little India, Arab Street , Geylang Serai Malay Village etc. All within walking distance or MRT (subway). Take advantage of the bus/MRT system. Taxis are everywhere as well.

Sentosa is over-rated. All major malls are over-rated. Newton Circus (not the clown/elephant type) is over-rated. Raffles hotel on the border of being over-rated, even the Singapore Sling cocktail. Jurong bird park is actually quite decent. Avoid Night Safari. Fort Canning is worth visiting, so is the National Museum.

Food is a must. For a place that serve all local cuisines with the touch of authenticity, I'd recommend lunch buffet at Straits Kitchen in Grand Hyatt (Singapore Restaurants: Straits Kitchen, Grand Hyatt Singapore, Singapore). Reason is you get to sample what local cuisines are before actually hitting the streets. Bourdain went there, we went there and you know it's good when the locals go there. Reservations STRONGLY recommended.

Visit the new F1 track, which is the street track that circumvents the Supreme court, cricket club, Anderson bridge, War Memorial park, Victoria concert hall, Esplanade theatre, etc. If there's one thing I miss about SG, is the road. Years of living there, I don't recall seeing one pot-hole ever. Notice I mentioned 'new' F1 track. SG used to host F1 back in the late 60s. That old F1 track is located north of the island, which unfortunately is a bit of a hassle to visit. Street track as well.

Yes you can chew gum. You can even bring gum in. In fact, you can wave a stick of gum at the customs officers and nothing will happen. Buying gum at 7-11 is a different story, ie none are sold.

SG is a country that has a national language of Malay, business language/first language as English and ethnic language as second language. It bans pornography yet legalizes prostitution. It has zero national debt and yet you wonder if it's because they tax 250% to 300% on cars and in additional one needs to bid for Certificate of Entitlement in order to have the "right" to own/drive a car. Pollution of any kind is next to none. Most Singaporeans don't really delve too much into politics/religion. Don't be shocked by line jumping and shoving in a crowded area. Leave the notion of FCFS at home for now.

I haven't been to Malaysia and Thailand for a long time. My last recollection of TH is Phuket and the Phi Phi Islands (before the Tsunami hit). SG tends to be more urbanized while in MY and TH you still can catch the slower pace of life in the suburbs and rural areas. For TH, please at least try a local curry dish. You'd be surprised they taste very different from the ones offered here.

As for hotels in SG, I can recommend
1. InterContinental Singapore (extremely convenient for MRT)
2. SwissOtel The Stamford (extremely convenient for MRT)
3. Fullerton Singapore (not so convenient but a wow factor)
4. Marina Mandarin (somewhat convenient)
5. Ritz Carlton (somewhat convenient)

If you have other choices, post them here and I can review/advice.

Hope these help!

AgentTripleX 12-27-2010 10:10 AM

Oops. I just added the links. Sorry. Manic Monday for me. Lots of deadlines and multi tasking going on. Just added them to my original post.

I'm staying at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Singapore and Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok, so hotel choices are set in those cities.

Your suggestions in Singapore are awesome. I also have an American friend that has been working/living out there for years. Hopefully he can be my tour guide.

Elise8206 12-27-2010 04:28 PM

Try to convert US currency at the hotel..If you can, stop by HongKong..Nice place. I alway stays in Conrad Hotel..

LongTimeLurker 12-27-2010 04:34 PM

I'm dying to get to Siem Reap, Cambodia before it gets too overly crowded with Americans, and becomes expensive. You can see the Angkor Wat, and go to some other historical places, as well as just enjoy a somewhat unspoiled tourist place.

AgentTripleX 12-28-2010 10:23 AM

Thanks. I'll be deciding and booking tonight.

BTW - Does anyone have advice for getting deals on Singapore Airlines? Anyone have points they want to sell? The best I could find for roundtrip from SFO is $1165.

AgentTripleX 12-30-2010 08:38 AM

So I decided on Bali for sure and trying to fit Phuket into the itinerary as well. I basically have 2 weeks in Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, & Phuket. Plus the train for 3 or 4 days.

MotoGeek 12-30-2010 01:11 PM

I always accept for full release. I think it's an insult to turn it down.

AgentTripleX 01-06-2011 08:42 AM

So I've confirmed more details. Flying into Bali via Singapore first. Staying here for 3 nights. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan: A Luxury Resort in Bali

Then flying back to Singapore for a couple days here Luxury Hotel in Singapore: The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore 5 Star Luxury Hotel before the Orient Express. Followed with a couple nights in Bangkok here Bangkok's Top Luxury Hotel by the Riverside |The Peninsula Bangkok and here http://www.lebua.com/en/lebua-at-state-tower/.

Finally flying to Phuket and Staying here for the remainder of my trip. Luxury Spa Vacation Resort in Phuket, Thailand - Evason Phuket & Bon Island

Now that I've confirmed my reservations I can really benefit from more suggestions. :)

So far I got travel books on Singapore and Thailand as well as a book on customs and etiquette. I may save that one for the flight though. ;)


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